Page images
PDF
EPUB

cause

he deems authorized by the language of Edwards. Viewed as such, his argument would stand thus-choice cannot, on the scheme of Edwards, affect its own in the act of its own causation, therefore volition is unavoidably necessary. The conclusion which affirms this dreaded fatality of volition, is formally drawn from the principle, that“ choice cannot exist before its cause.” Of course if the alleged conclusion is contained in the specified premise, we can avoid it only by surrendering that premise, and admitting that choice may exist before its cause. There must be choice " in the act of its causation,” as well as in the act caused, or volition is physically necessary. But if there musi be choice in the act of causation, as well as in the volition caused, then this choice, being itself caused, must have another act of causation, which again involves the necessity of still another previous choice, &c. &c.,“ in endless retrogression.". In other words, we have here the very error which, under the name of self-determination, Edwards so successfully opposed.

It strongly suggests itself as an explanation of the Reviewer's opposition to the very harmless language of the Inquiry, that he has overlooked that limitation of it, which confines it to existing volitions. Edwards speaks only of a present act of will, and says that it is absurd io suppose another volition to exist with it, and oppose it. But because an existing volition cannot meet with voluntary opposition, does it there. fore follow that this existing volition could not have been prevented ? that another couid not have been made to exist in ils stead?

This passage of the Review concludes with a reference to another statement of the Inquiry, which candor requires us not to leave unnoticed. It is that which declares that “the difference between these two kinds of necessity” (natural and moral) “lies not so much in the nature of the connection, as in the two terms connected !” This, we have ever regarded, as an unfortunate admission of the doctrine which Prof. T. charges npon Edwards. A minute criticism of the terms employed might, by virtue of the qualifying clause "so much," maintain that Edwards intended even here, to indicate some difference between these two relations. We prefer, however, frankly to acknowledge, as we have had occasion to do before, that the passage is hostile to the view we maintain ;

and that whatever weight it carries with it, is thrown into the scale of fatalism. We deem it a hasty and ill-considered expression, inconsistent with the general tenor and design of the work in which it occurs ; and we rely upon our exhibition of opposite views in the Inquiry, to sustain our judg. ment, and set aside the sanction which this sentence would otherwise give, to the reasonings of our opponents. Indeed, we are somewhat surprised that Prof. T. has not construct, ed a more formal argument, upon a passage so much to his purpose. He has shown, however, his high appreciation of its value, by the frequency with which he has appealed to it. Again and again do we find it exhibited in significant quotation marks, and almost every argument employed to fasten his system of fatalism upon Edwards, is clinched with this brief but pregnant declaration. Whether it is sufficient to sustain alone the weight of such a system, our readers must decide.

As we proceed in the examination of the Review, the questions become somewhat inore complicated. The Professor continues his explanations of the Inquiry, and brings to his aid the conclusions which he deems established by the arguments we have already noticed.

After his discussion of necessity, he passes to consider the view of natural and moral inability, which Edwards has giver in the following passage :

" It
niay

be said in one word, that moral inability consists, in the want, or opposition of inclination. For when a person is unable to will a thing through a desect of motives, or prevalence of contrary motives, it is the same thing, as his being unable through the want of an inclination, or the prevalence of a contrary inclination.” Upon this language he observes, that“ The inabil. ity in this case does not relate to the connection between volition and its consequents; but to the production of the volition itself. This inability to the production of a volition cannot be affirmed of the volition, because it is not yet supposed to exist. The inability, therefore, must belong to the causes of the volition, or to the motive." The Reviewer is here speaking of “the production of a volition, and he says that the inability to produce it, belongs to its cause, that is, to the motive. Motive, then, is represented to be, in the philosophy of Edwards, the producing cause of volition-not a mere circumstance, or condition or reason, of the existence of choice, but its producing cause.

This representation our critic has made before, and has endeavored, as we have seen, to sustain it by some reasoning, upon the comparison Edwards has instituted between motion and choice. We cannot find, however, that he has adduced any new argument in support of it; it rests therefore, both here and elsewhere, on the logic of that passage alone. This could scarcely be considered a very ample foundation for an allegation so important, were the reasoning undeniable. But when it is remembered that the argument is by no means unquestionable, and that it stands opposed to the whole usage of Edwards, who never once calls molive the producing cause of choice, but always speaks of “the soul exerting volition" -of "the activity of the soul enabling it to be the cause," it will be perceived how deficient is the proof of it.

There is, however, a passage in the Inquiry, which we cannot but consider absolutely decisive of all controversy upon this point; the one in which Edwards formally explains his use of the word cause, as applied to molive. On perceiving what statements Prof. T. had made in respect to this topic, we turned over the pages of his work with rather an eager curiosity, to see what explanation even the igenuity of our Reviewer could frame to avoid ils force. It was with equal surprise and disappointment, that we found he had omitted altogether to notice it. This unfortunate omission we take the liberty to supply. In discussing the question, “ whether any event whatever, and volition in particular, can come to pass without a cause,” Edwards speaks (Part II: Sec. 3.) as follows: “I would explain how I would be understood when I use the word cause in this discourse, since for want of a better word I shall have occasion to use it, in a sense which is more extended, than that in which it is sometimes used. The word is often used so as to signify only that which has a positive efficiency, or influence to produce a thing But there are many things which_have no such productive influence, which yet are causes. Therefore I sometimes use the word cause, to signify any antecedent with which a consequent event is so connected, that it truly belongs to the reason why the proposition which affirms that event is true, whether it hus any positive PRODUCTIVE influence, or not; and the word event for the consequence of that which is rather an occasion, than a cause, most properly speaking."

This passage indicates beyond a doubt, that Edwards used the word cause in its application to the antecedent of volition in particular, to signify that which has “productive influence,” but is a mere" occasion”—and yet Prof. T. affirms that Edwards intends to designate motive as the producing cause ; and says that on the scheme of his author, “motive as a cause must put forth a causative act in the production of a volition," (p. 183). The Reviewer's omission to notice this controlling passage of the Inquiry, renders his discussion incomplete, and unsatisfactory, in the most important particular the grand and fundamental principle of the philosophy he opposes : and we deeply regret, for his own sake, and for that of his argument, that a discussion otherwise so able, should be marred by such a material oversight.

In concluding his remarks on moral inability (which Edwards says consists in a want of inclination), Prof. T. expresses

himself as follows : :-"A want of inclination to one object (implying a strongerinclination to another), implies that the state of mind, and the nature and circumstances of the one object are not correlated ; but that ihe state of mind, and the nature and circumstances of the other object, are correlated. The first is, a want of sufficient motives ; the second, stronger motives to the contrary,Moral inability lies entirely out of the sphere of volition ; volition cannot produce or relieve it."

This last idea occurs perhaps more distinctly in the appeal 10 consciousness which forms part of the subsequent portion of Prof. T.'s work—“this want of inclination” (implying of course, the stronger inclination to another object),

exists, according to Edwards, antecedently to volition, and is therefore absolutely necessary relatively to the individual.”

These passages represent that, according to Edwards, moral inabiliiy to any volilion, consists in a want of inclination to it, and a stronger inclination to the opposite ; which, as they exist“ antecedently to volition,” volition can neither“ produce nor relieve.

Now if the reader will turn to p. 35 of the Review, he will find that volition, and the strongest inclination, are there alleged to be in the system of Edwards the very same thing. « Volition, or choice, or preference, being at any given moment the strongest inclination," &c. ;-again, p. 76, The strongest dasire at any given moment is choice.The inconsistency is palpable, even in the terms of the statement.

In one place we are told, that moral inability is produced by a stronger inclination to the opposite object, and that this stronger inclination exists antecedently to volition ; in the other that the strongest inclination, is volition. There is not the slightest intimation throughout the Review, that Edwards has inconsistently authorised opposing statements on this subject; on the contrary, Prof. T. distinctly and constantly charges upon him one of these views, that which identifies inclination with volition; and opposes his theory on the ground of it. What is the value of all this oft-repeated argument, which alleges that Edwards identifies them, and imputes fatalism to his system, in consequence of the identification, the Reviewer's own inconsistent denial of his allegation will serve sufficiently to show. If Edwards did identify them, he had too much acuteness to persist in an error so manifest, and he relieved his system of ils embarrassments by a happy inconsistency, for which his critic has not given him credit.

After some remarks upon general and particular inability, the Reviewer proceeds to comment on Edwards' discussion of the phrase, “want of power or ability." His treatment of this topic, we have not found marked with his usual clearness ; while, as in some former instances, we are forced to dissent from the interpretation, which his comment places upon the

passage in question. We quote it entire from the Inquiry, that our readers may judge for themselves of the validity of his construction of it; dividing it into two paragraphs for the sake of convenient reference.

1.“ It must be observed concerning moral inability, in each kind of it, that the word Inability is used in a sense very diverse from its original import. The word signifies only a natural inability in the original use of it; and is applied to such cases only, wherein a present will or inclination to the thing, with respect to wbich a person is said to be unable, is supposable. It cannot be truly said, according to the ordinary use of language, that a malicious man, iet him be ever so malicious, cannot hold his hand from striking, or that he is not able to show his neighbor kindness; or that a drunkard, let his appetite be ever so strong, cannot keep the cup from his mouth. In the strictest propriety of speech, a man has a thing in his power, if he has it in his choice, or at his election : and a man cannot be truly said to be unable to do a

« PreviousContinue »